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ED 468 858 



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Cassidy, Jack; Sanders, Jana 

A University Lab School for the 21st Century: The Early 
Childhood Development Center. 

2002-04-00 

19p.; In: "Early Childhood Literacy: Programs & Strategies To 

Develop Cultural, Linguistic, Scientific and Healthcare 
Literacy for Very Young Children & their Families, 2001 
Yearbook"; see PS 030 591. 

EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

Academic Achievement; Bilingual Education; Child Development; 
Child Development Centers; ^College School Cooperation; 
Developmentally Appropriate Practices; Early Childhood 
Education; ^Educational History; Educational Research; 
Elementary School Curriculum; ^Laboratory Schools; Preschool 
Curriculum; Program Descriptions; Teaching Methods; Young 
Children 

Corpus Christi Independent School District TX; Exemplary 
Schools; Texas (Corpus Christi); *Texas A and M University 
Corpus Christi; Texas Assessment of Academic Skills 



ABSTRACT 

This chapter is part of a book that recounts the year's work 
at the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) at Texas A & M University- 
Corpus Christi. Rather than an "elitist" laboratory school for the children 
of university faculty, the ECDC is a collaboration between the Corpus Christi 
Independent School District and the university with an enrollment 
representative of Corpus Christi' s population. The chapter delineates the 
rise and fall of university laboratory schools in the United States and then 
describes the ECDC, including its facility, school population, faculty, 
principal/director, dual-language curriculum, health center, counseling 
center, training mission, and positive student results on the Texas 
Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) . The chapter suggests that the ECDC 
addresses some of the problems of older campus laboratory schools, and at the 
same time, grapples with some of the major concerns of educators and 
legislators in -the 21st century. (Contains 24 references.) (EV) 



Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made 
from the original document. 



ED 468 858 



CEDER Yearbook 2001 



Chapter 1 



A University Lab School for the 21 st Century: 
The Early Childhood Development Center 



01 



Jack Cassidy 
Jana Sanders 





U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 
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CEDER Yearbook 2001 

The Evolution of Laboratory Schools 

Laboratory schools situated on university and college campuses 
were long a staple of institutions that provided training for preservice 
teachers. The concept was' simple. Bring PreK-12 students on campus, 
provide them with an education, and at the same time provide 
preservice teachers an opportunity to practice some of the methods 
they were learning in their pedagogy classes. These campus lab 
schools would also enable faculty and graduate students to experiment 
with new educational ideas and methods and to conduct the research 
needed to validate those ideas or methods. Furthermore, although 
never acknowledged in their mission statements, these campus lab 
schools often provided university faculty with a convenient place to 
educate their own children. Children from the local community were 
also invited to attend, but usually their parents would have to provide 
transportation. 

This chapter will delineate the rise and fall of the university 
laboratory school in the United States and then describe a new 
laboratory school, the Early Childhood Development Center on the 
campus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. This facility 
addresses some of the problems of the older campus laboratory 
schools, and at the same time, grapples with some of the major 
concerns of educators and legislators in the 21 st century. 

The Rise of Lab Schools & Child Development Centers 

Laboratory schools have been part of the university milieu in 
Europe and America for at least 200 years; some documents even date 
their origins to the 1600s. As early as the 1820s, reports of normal 
schools in the United States indicated that they were providing 
teaching opportunities for their preservice teachers in controlled 
teaching environments. Europe and America were not the only 
continents to have laboratory schools. In Japan, laboratory schools 
were and are called "attached schools." (Hayo, 1993). 

From 1850 to 1950, laboratory schools thrived. An 1874 report 
from the U.S. Commissioner of Education indicated that 47 of the 
nation’s 67 state normal schools provided laboratory or training 
schools in connection with their teacher education programs 
(Hendrick, 1980). By 1920, virtually every major teacher training 
institution in the country had a campus laboratory school. Often, the 



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The Evolution of Laboratory Schools 

Laboratory schools situated on university and college campuses 
were long a staple of institutions that provided training for preservice 
teachers. The concept was simple. Bring PreK-12 students on campus, 
provide them with an education, and at the same time provide 
preservice teachers an opportunity to practice some of the methods 
they were learning in their pedagogy classes. These campus lab 
schools would also enable faculty and graduate students to experiment 
with new educational ideas and methods and to conduct the research 
needed to validate those ideas or methods. Furthermore, although 
never acknowledged in their mission statements, these campus lab 
schools often provided university faculty with a convenient place to 
educate their own children. Children from the local community were 
also invited to attend, but usually their parents would have to provide 
transportation. 

This chapter will delineate the rise and fall of the university 
laboratory school in the United States and then describe a new 
laboratory school, the Early Childhood Development Center on the 
campus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. This facility 
addresses some of the problems of the older campus laboratory 
schools, and at the same time, grapples with some of the major 
concerns of educators and legislators in the 21 EI century. 

The Rise of Lab Schools & Child Development Centers 

Laboratory schools have been part of the university milieu in 
Europe and America for at least 200 years; some documents even date 
their origins to the 1600s. As early as the 1820s, reports of normal 
schools in the United States indicated that they were providing 
teaching opportunities for their preservice teachers in controlled 
teaching environments. Europe and America were not the only 
continents to have laboratory schools. In Japan, laboratory schools 
were and are called "attached schools." (Hayo, 1993). 

From 1850 to 1950, laboratory schools thrived. An 1874 report 
from the U.S. Commissioner of Education indicated that 47 of the 
nation's 67 state normal schools provided laboratory or training 
schools in connection with their teacher education programs 
(Hendrick, 1980). By 1920, virtually every major teacher training 
institution in the country had a campus laboratory school. Often, the 




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laD schools were small because institutions had limited space and 
‘were reluctant to invest a great deal of money in faculties and 
facilities for these campus schools. The University of Chicago School 
was one of the premier sites. John Dewey started the school and he 
was its director from 1896 until 1904. He articulated the purposes of 
the laboratory school (Hendrick, 1980, p. 58): 

It bears the same relation to the work of pedagogy that a 
laboratory bears to biology, physics, or dentistry. Like any 
such laboratory it has two main purposes ( 1 ) to exhibit, test, 
verify and criticize theoretical statements and principles, and 
(2) to add to sum of facts and principles in its special line. 

Dewey believed that research was the primary mission of 
laboratory schools, and he did not believe that they should serve as 
training vehicles for prospective teachers (Provenzo, 1979). Although 
Dewey had a deep concern for economically deprived populations, the 
University of Chicago lab school had to charge tuition in order to 
survive. For the most part, students attending the school came from 
very affluent families. 

Starting in the 1920s, many universities also began to develop 
child development laboratory programs or centers (Osborn, 1991). 
These were essentially laboratory schools for very young children. 
Like the earlier laboratory schools, these centers also had a three-fold 
mission: to serve as a practicum site for training preservice and 
inservice teachers in early childhood education and child 
development, to serve as a site for research on various aspects of child 
development, and to provide model programs in early childhood 
education for the national and local educational communities 
(McBride, 1996). Some also served as daycare centers for university 
students and faculty. Significant research emerged from these child 
development centers, including: norms for child development (Gesell 
at Yale), intelligence tests (Kuhlman at Minnesota), and studies of 
child play (Paten at Minnesota). Ironically, teacher educators 
conducted few of these significant studies; nor did they have direct 
'application to the early childhood classroom. 




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The Fall of Lab Schools & Child Development Centers 

After World War II, the number of lab schools in the United 
States declined precipitously, and few new lab schools were opened. 

A 1964 survey counted 212 lab schools, which declined to 166 by 
1973. By the start of the 21 s ' century, John R. Johnson, Executive 
Director of the National Association of Laboratory Schools, estimated 
that there were about only 100 lab schools in the United States 
(personal communication, July 28, 2001). 

Some of the same factors that initially contributed to the success 
of the lab school concept also contributed to its decline. However, the 
reasons for the decline were many (Goodlad, 1980; Hendrick, 1980; 
Dishner & Boothby, 1986). Critics maintained that some of the 
methods, materials, and philosophies that were so successful in the lab 
schools could not thrive outside the rarefied atmosphere of a campus 
school. Often, the students were the progeny of university faculty, and 
they lived in an atmosphere that actively promoted learning and 
school. Many of the non-faculty children came from affluent homes in 
which families could fill their shelves with books and could provide 
transportation to and from school. In other words, they were serving 
an elitist population - not typical of the population at large 
(MacNaughton & Johns, 1993; Hayo, 1993). Thus, even faculty in 
schools of education began to complain that lab schools were not 
providing preservice teachers with authentic field experiences. 

John Goodlad (1980), one of the premier educators in the United 
States, was director of a laboratory school for 18 years. While at the 
University of California, Los Angeles, the site of one of the country's 
premier lab schools, he clearly identified four other problems of lab 
schools. First was the problem of functions . He identified five major 
functions of lab schools: education of the children enrolled, 
development of new and innovative practices, research and inquiry, 
preservice education, and inservice education. He concluded that two 
of those functions, inservice and preservice education, would best be 
left to the local schools surrounding universities. These surrounding 
schools, or professional development schools, as they came to be 
called, would form new partnerships with the university (Goodlad, 
1990). Most of the field-based teacher preparation, particularly the . 
junior year experience and student teaching, would take place in these 
schools. The concept of professional development schools became one 
of the cornerstones of the reforms of teacher education proposed in the 




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CEDER Yearbook 2001 



late eighties and early nineties (Goodlad, 1990; Holmes Group, 1990). 
Some argued, however, that the laboratory school could also become a 
professional development school (Smith, 1991). 

The second major problem identified by Goodlad (1980) was one 
of differing values . Many of the stakeholders in lab schools have very 
differing values. The lab schoolteachers, or clinical faculty, want to 
demonstrate teaching expertise, preferably with methods and materials 
with which they are comfortable. The inservice teachers visiting the 
school want a technique or lesson they can use tomorrow; the 
preservice teacher wants a job; university professors want a hassle- 
free environment where they can do research; and the director of the 
school wants all of those things simultaneously. Because Goodlad 
would relegate the preservice and inservice education responsibilities 
to surrounding schools, he goes on to note that the conflict between 
the university professors and the lab schoolteachers can be a major 
concern. He states that each group fails to recognize the strengths of 
the other. The university professor has knowledge of research and 
specialized content whereas the lab schoolteacher has expertise in 
working with groups of children. 

The third and fourth problems identified by Goodlad (1980) were 
the problem of resources and the problem of external and internal 
support . The problem of adequate resources has plagued lab schools 
since their inception. Most campus lab schools are small, having no 
more than one or two classrooms per grade level. However, when all 
schools were required to offer all of the specialized services of the 
larger schools (e.g. special education, speech therapists, music, 
physical education, teachers of the gifted, nutrition, etc.), lab schools 
were particularly hard hit (McConnaha, 1996). Many universities 
began to question their financial commitment to lab schools 
particularly with the growth of professional development schools. 

In summary, Goodlad (1980) stated that unless the professional 
faculty are actively involved in doing research with the children and 
clinical faculty in the lab schools, and unless the lab schools maintain 
a "questioning ambience,” the schools are doomed to failure. The 
schools themselves, the professional faculty, and the clinical faculty 
must always be receptive to change, experimentation, and research. 

Another problem of lab schools only briefly alluded to by 
Goodlad (1980) was their failure to disseminate information about the 
research and program development being conducted on site. In an 
interview, John Haefner (Hepburn, 1995), a prominent social studies 



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educator and former President of the National Council of Social 
Studies, after bemoaning the closing of the University of Iowa lab 
school which was known for its innovative curriculum and teaching 
methods, supported the proposition that campus laboratory schools ; 
had failed in their dissemination mission: 

"Why was it closed? We simply did not publish enough about 
the high school. We defeated ourselves by not making greater 
efforts to get the results out to other educators" (p.454). 

The Early Childhood Development Center 

The $7.8 million Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) 
on the campus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) 
is one of the few university lab schools to open in the nineties. Like 
the lab schools and child development centers of old, this school has 
four interrelated missions: to do research, to train teachers, to provide 
model programs, and to educate the children attending the school. The 
facility was funded by the 73rd Texas Legislature in the 1994-95 
Biennial Budget for TAMUCC. The on-campus elementary school 
opened in August 1996 and is still in operation. Today, it serves 
children age three through grade three. The school opened in 1996 
with only four classrooms (age three through grade one). In 1997, the 
second-grade classroom was added, and in 1998, the third-grade 
classroom was added. The Center was developed through a 
collaborative effort between Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 
and the Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD). Like 
earlier lab schools and child development centers, the ECDC 
emphasizes a developmentally appropriate multi-cultural curriculum, 
instructional excellence, and team teaching. 

However, several major focal points of the ECDC, different from 
those historically accepted, are emphasized as well. They include: 

• A dual language curriculum. 

• Fulltime publicly supported schooling for three- and four- 
year-olds. 

• A school student population from low-income families, 
many of who have English as their second language. 

• State-of-the-art technology. 

• A heavy emphasis on parent involvement and education. 



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u-uuauuiauvc researcn oeiween iao scnooneacners ana L-ouege oi 
•Education faculty, often the overlooked mission in lab schools of the 
past, is another major emphasis of the ECDC. 

The Facility 

The two-story facility contains six classrooms for the three-year- 
olds through third graders as well as offices for faculty and classrooms 
for college students. Each of the six classrooms for children has a 
collapsible wall, which can be opened for large multi-age groupings or 
closed for single class instruction and activities. In addition, each 
classroom has approximately eleven computers. On the second floor, 
above each classroom, there is an observation deck with one-way 
glass and auditory capability. This provides university students with 
opportunities to observe unobtrusively the young children below in 
their classroom setting. The ECDC also houses the Center for 
Educational Development, Evaluation and Research (CEDER), the 
research and development center for the College of Education. In 
general, the professional faculty members housed at the ECDC are 
committed to involving their students and themselves with research in 
the center. 

School Population 

The student population in the Early Childhood Development 
Center is selected from the Corpus Christi Independent School 
District, and selection criteria are based upon demographics of that 
district. Guidelines for the composition of the ECDC school 
population are in accordance with recommendations of the 
Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development, an 
interagency group dedicated to improving the condition of young 
children at risk (Evans & Meyers, 1994). The school population 
includes approximately 132 children: 63% of the children qualify for 
free or reduced lunch, 50% of the children come from Spanish- 
dominant families, and 50% from English-dominant homes. Thus, 
there are four groups from which stratified selections are made. Fifty 
percent (11) of the children come from Spanish-dominant homes; of 
those, sixty-three percent come from low-income homes 
(approximately 7), and thirty-seven percent come from non-low 
income families (approximately 4). The same percentages apply to the 




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children from English-dominant homes, the local sciiooi district 
conducts a lottery during the month of April from which the 22 three- 
year-old children for the three-year-old classroom are selected. It is 
hoped that these three-year-olds will continue at the ECDC through 
third grade. However, if students drop out or transfer, they are 
replaced with other children from the original pool. (See Chapter 2 for 
a detailed discussion of selection procedures.) Thus the school 
population of the ECDC is, for the most part, representative of the 
population of South Texas. Unlike many of the lab school populations 
of the past, the children are not, for the most part, the progeny of 
affluent well-educated parents. 

Faculty 

The clinical faculty for the six classrooms in the ECDC are 
master teachers, all employed by the school district. A part-time 
itinerant special education teacher also serves the children and is 
employed by the school district. Because the intent was to make the 
ECDC concept reproducible in other schools, not all the faculty are 
bilingual. For the first five years of its operation, two of the clinical 
faculty were not bilingual. Because fifty percent of the instruction for 
all children was to be in Spanish, this necessitated team teaching. 
Turnover of the clinical faculty, although not encouraged, is not 
discouraged. At the start of 2001, three of the original clinical faculty 
remain, but two of those have switched grade levels. 

In choosing the clinical faculty for the ECDC, particular concern 
was directed toward the selection of the teachers of the three- and 
four-year-olds. These teachers were and are an integral part of the 
school and, as such, were to have impeccable academic credentials. 
The original teacher of the three-year-olds had her doctorate in earl: 
childhood education and, at the time, was one of the few Texas 
teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching 
Standards. The present teacher of three-year-olds has a master’s 
degree in early childhood education with many graduate hours in the 
teaching of reading. The teacher for the four-year-old classroom has a 
doctorate in bilingual education and has published several articles in 
that field. 

In 2001, a new position was added to the ECDC - a part-time 
research liaison. His position is to work with the clinical faculty and 



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CEDER Yearbook 2001 



the professional faculty to ensure that the research agreed upon is 
carried out in the most efficient manner. 

ECDC Principal/Director 

The roles of the principal and the director of the ECDC have been 
evolving constantly. In the year prior to the opening of the laboratory 
school (1995-96), a fulltime director was hired to oversee the 
planning. He continued in that role during the first year of the ECDC’s 
operation, and his entire salary was paid by the University. In 1997, 
the role of the director was changed to a half-time position and 
remained that way for the next three years; however, during the same 
period, the position was elevated to the rank of assistant dean. Starting 
in 1996, (the first year in which children attended) and for the first 
three years of it’s the school’s operation, a principal, who was a 
doctoral student in the University's educational leadership program, 
was added to the roster of ECDC staff. The principal/doctoral 
student's stipend was again paid by the university. In 1999, the school 
district assumed responsibility for the salary of the principal although 
the university supplemented that salary for additional responsibilities 
related to the university. In the fall of 2001, the principal's and 
director's positions were combined. Again the principal's salary is paid 
by the school district while the university continues to provide an 
additional supplement for university-related responsibilities. The 
principal/director of the laboratory school functions as a department 
chair within the College of Education together with the six other 
departments: counseling, curriculum & instruction, educational 
administration & research, kinesiology, special services, and teacher 
education. The faculty members in the ECDC Department consist of 
the teachers in the laboratory school - the clinical faculty. 



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Center Curriculum 

The original curriculum for the ECDC was written during the fall 
of 1995 by a cadre of CJCISD teachers and the early childhood 
education faculty from TAMUCC. However, changes in curriculum 
for the Corpus Christi Independent School District have also 
influenced the curriculum at the ECDC. That curriculum has as its 
focus dual language instruction, and that instruction begins with the 
three-year-olds. The hope is that the children from the Spanish- 
dominant homes will learn English, and the children from the English- 
dominant homes will leam Spanish. About 50% of the instructional 
time is devoted to each language. (See Chapter 2.) Although dual 
language facility is particularly important in South Texas, a recent 
headline in USA Today proclaimed "Si usted no habla espanol puede 
quedarse rezagado” (If you don't speak Spanish, you might be left 
behind") (Sharp, 2001). The article went on to state that everyone 
from feedlot managers in Nebraska to stockbrokers in New York are 
realizing the importance of speaking Spanish. 

In addition to the focus on dual language instruction, the 
curriculum at the ECDC includes the use of age appropriate multi- 
age/cross grade groupings, and team teaching. Each room has 
approximately eleven computers, so children are introduced to 
technology at a very young age. A technology curriculum for very 
young children has been developed by faculty and graduate students 
in educational technology. (See Chapter 12.) 

Health Center 

The nursing program on the campus of TAMUCC has a health 
care facility in the ECDC building to train school nursing students. 
Students in the nursing program are required to do a clinical rotation 
through the facility to work with the children. Thus, the children 
enrolled at the ECDC receive quality preventive health care within the 
school environment, and the nursing students receive valuable 
practicum experiences through their interaction with young children. 
The presence of the Health Center also guarantees that another college 
within the university also has a vested interest in the laboratory 
school. (See Chapter 13.) 




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Counseling Center 

Also located in the ECDC building are counseling faculty and 
graduate students. The graduate students gain experience working 
with the ECDC children and their families. Faculty in the Department 
of Counseling have developed an active research agenda, much of it 
based on their work with the ECDC children and teachers. The school, 
in turn, receives free counseling for its students and families. (See 
chapter 14.) 

T raining Mission 

Because the ECDC is on the campus, various groups of 
undergraduate and graduate students are able to observe and interact 
with young children. The early childhood majors probably make the 
most use of the ECDC for observation and practicum experiences 
because the early childhood classes are taught on site and all early 
childhood faculty are housed there. Early childhood students have a 
chance to observe and practice various developmentally appropriate 
strategies and techniques as well as to examine age appropriate 
materials. Graduate students in the school; counseling program have 
opportunities to interact not only with the young children but also with 
their families. In addition, both graduate and undergraduate students 
in various curriculum areas and in school nursing have an opportunity 
to interact with children and teachers in the center. 

Results 

At the close of its fifth year of operation and with the arrival of a 
new dean of the College of Education, the clinical and professional 
faculty had an opportunity to reexamine the results of this five year 
multi-million dollar experiment. Are the children in the ECDC 
learning? Would some of the problems faced by past laboratory 
schools be solved? Could the work done at the ECDC make a 
contribution to the educational knowledge base? Could this preschool 
dual language model be replicated in a neighborhood public school? 




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Quantitative Results 

One of the great concerns of everyone associated with the 
development of the ECDC was the emphasis on high stakes testing in 
Texas. All public schools in Texas are required to administer the 
Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) on an annual basis. 
The TAAS consists of criterion-referenced tests in reading, 
mathematics, and writing. The TAAS reading and mathematics tests 
are administered to all eligible public school students in grades three 
through eight and ten. The writing test is administered only at grades 
four, eight, and ten (Texas Education Agency, 2001). 

The TAAS test is designed to measure a list of standards called 
the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). The TEKS were 
developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide public 
school districts with guidelines for a state-required foundation 
curriculum. Schools receive a rating of "exemplary," "recognized," 
"acceptable," or "low performing" on the basis of TAAS results and 
attendance rates. In order for a school to receive an exemplary rating, 
at least 90% of the students must receive a passing score on the 
TAAS. In order to pass the test, students must achieve a standard 
score of 70, which is roughly equivalent to answering correctly 70% 
of the items (TEA, 2001b). 

Thus, the ECDC, which is a public school in the Corpus Christi 
Independent School District, was required to give this test in 1999, at 
the end of its third year of operation, and the year the first group of 
students completed third grade. Unlike most other lab school 
populations, most of these children did not come from homes where 
stellar results were the norm. Furthermore, half of the instruction for 
these children was in Spanish, and the TAAS was in English. Would 
the ECDC children be able to pass the dreaded test? Professional and 
clinical faculty hoped the school would be exempt because of its 
experimental nature. Unfortunately, no such exemptions were 
available. 

When the 1999 results came in, all students had passed the 
reading portion of the TAAS and most had passed the mathematics 
section (TEA, 1999). The school was rated "recognized." A banner 
was hoisted in the school lobby and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. 
In 2000, the TAAS results came in, and the ECDC was rated 
"exemplary” (TEA, 2000). Jubilation! 2001 - “exemplary” again! 
More jubilation (TEA, 2001a)! ! ! 




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Replication 

One measure of the validity of any program developed in a lab 
school setting is successful replication in a regular public school. In 
January 2001, the Zavala Special Emphasis School in the Corpus 
Christi Independent School District began a fulltime publicly 
supported preschool for three- and four-year-olds modeled after the 
ECDC and supported by a congressional grant. Like the ECDC, dual 
language acquisition is a major point of the curriculum. Also, like the 
ECDC, not all the teachers are bilingual; one is bilingual, and one 
speaks only English. As in the ECDC, this situation necessitates team 
teaching. Both of the new Zavala teachers are recent graduates of 
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’ s elementary and bilingual 
education programs. For the most part, the student population of the 
Zavala Special Emphasis School comes from one of the lowest socio- 
economic areas of Corpus Christi. (See Chapter 3.) 

Overcoming Problems 

In 1980, Goodlad succinctly identified numerous problems of lab 
schools. The first was the many different functions expected of lab 
schools: education of children, preservice education, inservice 
education research, and program development. The ECDC has all of 
those functions, but research and program development have become 
priorities, along with the education of the children. The professional 
development schools in the surrounding area have become the major 
venues for student teaching and other field-based experiences; these 
experiences have become of secondary importance at the ECDC. 

The fact that the clinical faculty and the principal are employed 
by the local school district alleviates another of the major problems of 
older lab schools— the problem of resources. No longer is the lab 
school a drain on the resources of the university or the college of 
education. Also, the Early Childhood Development Center is 
addressing two educational problems that have been identified as 
priorities for the 21 s1 century. Specifically, those problems are Spanish 
language acquisition (Sharp, 2001) and preschool literacy and learning 
(Cassidy & Cassidy, 2000/2001; McQuillan, 2001). In fact, because of 
this unique focus, the ECDC has been able to garnish over a million 
dollars in external grants. Also, because other colleges and faculty 




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CEDER Yearbook 2001 

within the University are involved in the ECDC, there is a broad- 
based support for this facility. 

Another problem of past university laboratory schools has been 
the failure to disseminate"the findings of their research and program 
development. Although some studies based at the Early Childhood 
Education Center have been published (Montague & Meza-Zaragosa, 
1999), the publication and distribution of the CEDER Yearbook, Earl y 
Childhood Literacy: Programs & Strate g ies to Develop Cultura l, 
linguistic. Scientific and Healthcare Literacy for Very Youhg 
Children & Their Families (Cassidy & Garrett, 2001) should provide a 
unified compendium of research and innovative programming for 
individuals interested in laboratory schools, dual language acquisition 
and preschool instruction. 

Some Observational Comments 

Over thirty years ago William Van Til (1969), a distinguished 
educator, laboratory advocate and writer, delivered a speech about 
laboratory schools at the annual conference for the American 
Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE). The speech 
was later published and widely quoted. Somewhat tongue in cheek, he 
painted a picture of what a campus laboratory school should be: 

Within a shining new building on the campus at an 
institution of higher learning, children and youth who were 
representative of the American population would 
experience the finest possible education. Their learning 
experiences would be derived from the application of the 
tested best already established, and from experimentation 
with the newest and most venturesome approaches to 
education. 

The laboratory school facility would be made up of 
master teachers demonstrating their skills in the art and 
science of teaching, carrying forward research and 
experimentation with children and youth, and adroitly 
inducting observers, participants, and student teachers into 
the best of all possible educational theory and practice. 
Their partners in the school would be the college and 
university professors. The professors would artfully 
interweave their classroom instruction with extensive 



ERjt 



16 



observation, participation, and student teaching in the 
demonstration school by teachers-to-be. The professors 
also would share in the development of significant research 
with the experimental school faculty. 

To this center of educational enlightenment would 
journey educators from far and near to observe the best in 
education. They would then return to their schools to put 
new ideas into practice , thus raising the level of American 
education. The laboratory school would be the pride of the 
college and university administration, the joy of parents 
fortunate enough to have young people enrolled therein, 
and the darling of state legislators, boards of trustees, and 
philanthropists. 

To a large extent, the Early Childhood Development Center at 
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi fulfills Van Til's dream of the 
last century. True, there are still university professors who grumble 
about the attention devoted to the campus school; the lab school 
teachers complain that more is expected of them than their 
counterparts in public schools; the administration occasionally sees 
the ECDC as just another of the myriad problems which must be 
addressed; and there are occasional curriculum conflicts between the 
School District and the University. But.... the facility is "a shining 
new building on the campus of an institution of higher learning" and 
the student body is "representative of the American population" of 
South Texas. The dual language curriculum and the fulltime publicly 
supported program for three- and four-year-olds represent 
"experimentation with the newest and most venturesome approaches 
to education." VanTil's statement that "the laboratory school would 
besThe pride of the college and university administration" is brought to 
life each" semester by the President of Texas A&M University-Corpus 
Christi when he proudly cites the ECDC in his opening remarks to 
faculty. To some extent, the laboratory school has also become "the 
darling of state legislators, boards of trustees and philanthropists" 
because they realize that the school is willing to address some of the 
problems facing public education in the 21 s ' century (1969) 



The Future 



The problems encountered by the older university lab schools as 
they en t “-“ rl ,aRt ha,f of the twentieth century have, to some 




extent, been addressed 
Development Center on 



campus. 



campus, uuuuuutuuij, v 

ones will arise. It is the hope of all \ 
this unique facility will continue to 
and demands of a changing society. 



17 I? 



CEDER Yearbook 2001 



References 

Cassidy, J., & Cassidy, D. (2000/2001). What’s hot, what's not for 
2001. Reading Today, 18(3), 1,18. 

Cassidy, J., & Garrett, S.D. (Eds.) (in progress). Early Childhood 
Literacy: Programs & Strategies to Develop Cultural, 
Linguistic, Scientific and Healthcare Literacy for Very Young 
Children & Their Families. Unpublished manuscript, Texas 
A&M University- Corpus Christi. 

Dishner E. K., & Boothby, P.R. (1986). A bold "old" step: return to 
laboratory schools. New Directions for Teaching & Learning. 
San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass. 

Evans, J., & Meyers, R.G. (1994, Winter). A call to action: Improving 
the situation of children worldwide. HighlScope ReSource, 1- 
8 . 

Goodlad, J.I. (1980). How laboratory schools go awry. UCLA 
Educator, 21(2), 62-73. 

Goodlad, J.I. (1990). Tomorrow's schools: Principles for the design of 
professional development schools. San Francisco, CA: Josey- 
Bass. 

Hayo, M. (1993). Clinical education and the role of attached schools 
in preservice teacher education. Peabody Journal of 
Education, 68, 53-57. 

Hendrick, I. G. (1980) University controlled laboratory schools in 
historical perspective. UCLA Educator, 21(2), 54-60. 

Hepburn, M. (1995). Interview with Dr. John Haefner. Social 
Education, 59, 451-454. 

Holmes Group. (1990). Tomorrow’s schools: Principles for the design 
of professional development schools 1990. East Lansing, MI: 
Michigan State University, Holmes Partnership. 

MacNaughton, R. H. & Johns, F. (1993). The professional 

development school: An emerging model. Contemporary 
Education, 64, 215-218. 

McBride, B. (1996). University-based child development laboratory 
programs: Emerging issues and challenges. Early Childhood 
Education Journal, 24, 17 -21. 

McConnaha, W. (1996). The laboratory schools in the year 2000. 
Paper presented at the Northeastern Regional Conference of 
the National Association of Laboratory Schools. 




18 



18 



CEDER Yearbook 2001 

McQuillan, L. (2001, July 26). First lady to promote learning before 
age 5. USA Today, pp. 8A. 

Montague, N. & Meza-Zaragosa (1999). Elicited response in the pre- 
kindergarten setting with a dual language program: Good or 
bad idea. Bilingual Research Journal, 23 1 289-296. 

Osborn, D.K. (1991). Early childhood education in historical 

perspective (3 rd ed.). Athens, GA: Education Associates. 

Provenzo, E. (1979). History as experiment: The role of the laboratory 
school in the development of John Dewey's philosophy of 
history. History Teacher, 12, 373-382. 

Sharp, D. (2001, May 9). Si usted no habla espanol puede quedarse 
rezagado (If you don't speak Spanish, you might be left 
behind); Spanish study booms in USA. USA Today, pp. 1-2. 

Smith, Charles W. (1991). Laboratory/professional development 
schools: Are they, can they be, one and the same? National 
Association of Laboratory Schools Journal, 16, 8-17. 

Texas Education Agency. (1999). Texas Student Assessment Program: 
Student performance results 1997-1998. Austin, TX: Author. 

Texas Education Agency. (2000). Texas Student Assessment Program: 
Student performance results 1998-1999. Austin, TX: Author. 

Texas Education Agency. (2001a). Texas Student Assessment 

Program: Student performance results 1999-2000. Austin, 

TX: Author. 

Texas Education Agency. (2001b). Student assessment division. 

Retrieved November 5, 2001, from Texas Education Agency 
Web site: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment . 

Van Til, W. (1969). The laboratory school: Its rise and fall? Terre 
Haute, IN: Indiana State University and Laboratory Schools 
Administrators Association. 



19 



19 




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